TSA Rescinds Controversial Employee Web Site Access Policy

Just days after it was revealed that the Transportation Security Administration planned to block employee access to web sites with "controversial opinions," the federal agency rescinded the new policy. The ban on "controversial opinion" sites, issued late last week was part of a more general TSA Internet-usage policy blocking employee access to gambling (they called them "gaming" sites) and chat sites, as well as sites that dealt with extreme violence or criminal activity.

But as bloggers – including many conservative blogs that picked up the story from Drudge Report – a small handful or privacy advocates and the American Civil Liberties Union questioned the loose language of the policy, the TSA reconsidered its messaging and withdrew.

"There’s always a danger that threats are used to justify over-broad restrictions on speech and other freedoms," said Jay Stanley, an American Civil Liberties Union privacy expert, before the TSA announced it was dropping the idea. "But it’s disturbing to see the TSA get the balance all wrong on that."

According to a Washington Post report, TSA spokeswoman Lauren Gaches said that the agency’s revised "acceptable use" policy for Internet access on the agency’s network was designed to block sites "that promote destructive behavior to one’s self or others."

"After further review, TSA determined the ‘controversial opinion’ category may contain some sites that do not violate TSA’s policy and therefore has concluded that the category is no longer being considered for implementation," she said in an e-mail to The Washington Times.

But before rescinding the guideline, agency officials noted that the policy changes were "intended to address evolving cyberthreats," but did not do a very good job of explaining exactly what "controversial opinions" they were talking about and whether Internet sites with viewpoints contrary to the Administration’s would be targeted under the new guidelines.

 

Source: Washington Times

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